Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Vietnamese Salmon Steaks with Cucumber, Garlic and Ginger

sliced cucumbers

We had to choose a Vietnamese dish to serve alongside our pho bo.[link] I started flipping through our Vietnamese Food & Cooking book.

(An aside: This book is very nice. Full-color photos of every dish. Lots of extra information regarding Vietnam and Cambodia. Helpful recipe write-ups/intros and easy-to-read recipes. All in all, an excellent book. Too bad there isn't much information on it on Amazon.)

We had several humongo salmon steaks in the fridge, so I had to choose a seafood dish.

There were a couple of other contenders -- Fish in Coconut Custard and Fish Steamed in Coconut Milk with Ginger, Cashews and Basil -- but for ease and speed, I settled on making Spicy Pan-Seared Tuna with Cucumber, Garlic and Ginger. Well, pan-seared salmon, not tuna.

This recipe simply called for cooking the fish and spooning over a sweet, tangy sauce with cucumbers.

To make it easier for myself, I sliced the cucumber into half-moons, but the recipe calls for long strips.

This was a nice "light" companion dish to our pho bo. Very clean and refreshing, yet punchy in flavor.

Spicy Pan-Seared Tuna with Cucumber, Garlic and Ginger
Vietnamese Food & Cooking by Ghillie Başan
Serves 4

1 small cucumber
10ml/2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tuna steaks

4cm/1 1/2-inch ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
2 green Thai chilliesm seeded & roughly chopped
45ml/3 tbsp raw cane sugar
45ml/3 Tbsp nuoc mam
juice of 1 lime
60ml/4 tbsp water

The ingredients and quantities are from the book. I've paraphrased the method/procedure.

Make the dressing:
Grind the ginger, garlic and chillies to a pulp with the sugar using a mortar & pestle. Stir in the nuoc mam, lime juice and water. Mix well. Leave dressing to stand for 15 minutes.

Cut the cucumbers in hlaf lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into long thin strips. Toss cucumber in the dressing and leave to soak for 15 minutes.

Sear tuna:
Wipe a heavy pan with the sesame oil and rub the garlic cloves onto the surface. Heat the pan. Add tuna steaks and sear for a few minutes on each side. (Rare to medium-rare.) Place onto a warm serving dish.

Use tongs or chopsticks and lift cucumbers pieces from dressing. Arrange around the tuna steaks. Drizzle dressing over the dish and serve immediately.

Vietnamese food at eatingclub vancouver
Squid with Black Pepper
Trout in Vietnamese Caramel Sauce
Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Vietnamese Salmon Steaks with Cucumber, Garlic and Ginger
Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad (Goi Ga Bap Cai) on Sesame Rice Cracker (Banh Trang Me)
Vietnamese Spring Roll (Cha Gio)
Asparagus and Crab Egg Crêpes


  1. Thanks for the book recommendation! I've been looking for an authentic Vietnamese book to round out my library.

  2. I like the sound of that dressing & love your cucumber photos

  3. hmnnnn.. this looks delish and healthy. just did salmon myself... your cucumber pics are nice.

  4. You're an expert. Look at the nice cucumber slices. You're hired! :-)

    I like the Thai dressing, it's similar to the one i toss roasted brussel sprouts with. It's yum!

  5. Yumm looks good. I love how clean and balanced Vietnamese flavours are.

  6. This is a terrific meal, I love all the flavors you used. The photos are really great too.

  7. healthy and delicious sound good to me! :)

  8. what can i say but everywhere i put my eyes my stomach is rumbling!!hehehe yuuuuuuuummmy!!

  9. Julia:
    You should also get that one by Mai Pham: _Pleaseures of the Vietnamese Tbale_.

    Thanks! It was rare that the cucumberslices didn't fall out of their cucumber formation!

    Zen Chef:
    Haha... How much is the starting wage? ;)

    Teehee. That's a good sign for us.

  10. This one looks really good as well. I have been wanting to pick up a book about Vietnamese cooking for a while.

  11. i absolutely have to compliment your slicing skills--superb! :)

  12. kevin:
    I don't know how readily available this book is, but the one in the pho post (Pleaseures of the Vietnamese Table) should be easier to find, I think.

    Thanks! It was a rare occasion that they were all pretty even lik that, so I had to take pictures, haha.

  13. what an incredible job on cutting the cucumbers!

  14. olga:
    Thanks! A little bit fluke-y, it was. ;)

  15. Wow, beautiful knife skills, those cucumbers look great!


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